Coaching Staff Cites Improved Shooting as Key to Halting Two-Game Skid
ANNAPOLIS, MD: Head coach
Brendan Kelly said there is no reason to make dramatic changes. Team president and assistant coach
Dave Cottle said the key to success is as simple as just shooting the ball better.
Attention to detail and improved shooting will be the focus on Saturday night as the Chesapeake Bayhawks (3-3) seek to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the Rochester Rattlers (0-6) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
“It’s a long season and we just need to stay the course. I still think we have the best team in the league,” Kelly said. “At this point, we need to focus on the Bayhawks. We’re not playing like champions right now and we need to get back to that this weekend.”
Shooting was the primary issue last Saturday night as Chesapeake endured a 17-10 loss at the hands of first place Boston. The Bayhawks got off 49 shots, but only 23 of them were on cage. Most of that misfiring came in the second half when the Bayhawks were held to just three goals.
“Obviously, we need to shoot the ball much better than we have been,” Kelly said. “In this league, you really need to shoot 30 percent or better to be successful.”
Cottle, who serves as the team’s offensive coordinator, said the poor shooting is the result of not getting enough open looks, which is due to ineffective dodging. Opponents are defending the team’s most dangerous midfielders – perennial All-Star
Kyle Dixon and third-year standout and All-Star
Ben Hunt – with long poles. That puts the pressure on other middies to dodge against short stick defensive midfielders.
“We need to work on our midfield dodging and drawing slides. In order to get open shots, you need to get the defense scrambling,” explained Cottle, who would also like to see more transition scoring. “We’re not getting any easy goals. We have to earn everything.”
Kelly and Cottle are hopeful that second-year midfielder
Michael Kimmel can return to the lineup after missing last Saturday’s game with an injury. The former Johns Hopkins All-American is dangerous at dodging right or left, and would be a real weapon working against a short stick while running on the first midfield with Dixon and Hunt.
Hunt has been on fire despite drawing special defensive attention. The former North Carolina All-American has scored 12 goals and totaled 17 points this season. “I think Ben and
Paul Rabil have been the two best midfielders in the league this season,” Cottle said.
Transition defense is another area the coaching staff is going to emphasize with the team in practice this week. Boston scored five goals off restarts and a totaled 10 goals in unsettled situations last Saturday.
“Our midfielders need to take on more defensive responsibility. When the other team gets a transition opportunity, our middies need to sprint back and defend instead of coming off the field,” Cottle said.
An encouraging development during the Boston loss was the play of rookie goalie
Brian Phipps, who went the distance for the first time this season and recorded a career-high 16 saves. Phipps personally kept the Bayhawks in the game by stopping 11 shots in the first half.
“Brian Phipps was phenomenal. He really broke out the other night and showed that he can be a big-time player in this league,” Kelly said. “Right now, Brian is seeing the ball like it’s a beach ball.”
Chesapeake got a lift offensively from
Justin Smith, a seventh-year midfielder who was acquired from Boston during the off season. The former Salisbury University standout put four of five shots on cage and scored three goals. Kelly said the fact Smith has been inactive for a few games this season shows the team’s tremendous depth.
“We have all the pieces, we just need to figure out how to put together the puzzle,” Kelly said. “It’s my job as head coach to determine which players work best together.”
Rochester, which has suffered four losses of three goals or less, made a coaching change this week – replacing
B.J. O’Hara with
Tim Soudan. A former player for the Rattlers, Soudan admitted that his debut is made more difficult by facing the defending champions on their home field.
“This is one of the toughest situations I’ve been in. My challenge is to get the guys excited about playing one of the top teams in the league,” Soudan said. “One of our biggest problems has been not coming out of the locker room and responding in the third quarter. We need to play better in the second half and learn how to finish games.”
Chesapeake remains home this weekend to battle the Rattlers again at 7:30pm on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Fans are encouraged to come early and join the Bayhawks for the Bud Light Pre-Game Tailgate in the parking lot. The tailgate will include live music, the Warrior Fun Zone the Budweiser Clydesdales, and Bud Light specials and is open to all fans. A fireworks show will be presented in honor of Military Appreciation Night post-game so don’t miss out! The game will also be aired live on ESPN2, ESPN3.com, and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
2011 Home Schedule
May 14th vs. Rochester Rattlers W (14-10)
June 25th vs. Boston Cannons L (17-10)
July 2nd vs. Rochester Rattlers 7:30 PM
July 23rd vs. Long Island Lizards 7:00 PM
July 30th vs. Hamilton Nationals 7:00 PM
August 13th vs. Denver Outlaws 7:00 PM
August 27th MLL Semifinals 12:00 PM & 3:00 PM
August 28th MLL Championship 3:00 PM
Bayhawks season tickets can be purchased online at
www.thebayhawks.comor over the phone by calling the box office 866-99-HAWKS (42957). Reserve your seat today and see the 2010 MLL Champions battle to defend their title at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this summer.